By John Gunnell
It all began with a '49 Chevy pickup that Ed Lipinski learned to drive on when he was 12 years old. Today, Lipinski owns a Watson, Minn. company called E-Z Chassis Swaps. He manufactures easy-to-build kits that help hobbyists mount old pickup truck bodies on newer chassis.
Lipinski grew up with an interest in cars and a desire to build hot rods. He had an aptitude for drawing and his mother talked him into going to school for drafting, rather than auto body repair. He attended Granite Falls Vo-Tech and earned a degree in drafting and design. He then went to work for Montevideo Technology, Inc., where he spent 26 years designing tools and motors.
In 2006, Lipinski was laid off from work. That's what prompted him to combine his design talents with his car building desires and start E-Z Chassis Swaps. But, then he went to work for Fagan Engineering in Granite Falls, where he spent seven years before another lay-off came.
At first glance this E-Z Chassis Swaps promotional vehicle looks like a completely restored 1949-1954 Chevrolet Advance-Design short box pickup truck. These popular commercial vehicles were Chevy's first postwar trucks.
The Chevy half-a-truck promotional vehicle was prominently displayed at the 2016 Iola Car Show. This selling tool is so detailed that it even has a taillight on one side and a chrome plated exhaust pipe extension.
This development convinced Lipinski to make E-Z Chassis a full-time business. He designs the chassis swap kits and has them manufactured by sub-contractors in Minnesota and South Dakota. Granite Falls Coating does the powder coating of the parts.
Lipinski's most popular kit allows a 1947-1954 Chevrolet or GMC body to be mounted on a Chevrolet S10 pickup chassis. He also makes a second kit that permits a 1941-1947 Chevrolet pickup body to be mounted on an S10 chassis. A more recent design involves mounting late-1955 to 1959 Chevrolet pickup bodies on a full-size Chevy truck chassis or a 1978-1996 Caprice chassis.
The show vehicle features an original early postwar Chevy pickup body on a reconditioned 1984 S10 pickup chassis that is fitted with a small-block Chevy overhead valve V-8. Finned Holley rocker covers are a hot rod touch.
Ed Lipinski of E-Z Chassis Swap shows off an article written about him and his company in an area newspaper. Two lay-offs in less than 10 years prompted Ed Lipinski to go into manufacturing chassis kits on a full-time basis.
The conversions utilize many parts from the chassis-donor vehicles that make the finished product easier and safer to drive. More power, better braking, greater safety and improved ride quality are some advantages of a chassis swap.
Lipinski's kit was used in a cable TV show called "Lost in Transmissions" on The History Channel. The truck built in that case was a '52 Chevy pickup on an S10 chassis. That particular kit sells for $1,595 plus shipping and handling. Other kits cost up to $1,695 for a late-'55 Chevy or GMC pickup with a long box.
The Made in the USA kits allow the older bodies to be installed on the newer frame by either bolting or welding components together. Only basic mechanical skills are required to do a chassis swap. The kits provide the mounts that adapt other done-truck parts, including the steering column, wiring and brake system. Builders can put together a chassis and cab and then add their own fenders and cargo box.